Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Can You See It?

My attempt of keeping a meditative approach to Advent has been a bit distracted. Mary and Derek's tragedy has appropriately become my focus the last several days. No regrets. My heart and mind cannot be two places at once.

This morning I decided to try to recapture my expectation. I went to youtube and watched several Advent videos and listened to some music. I feel I am waiting for the dawn again. I'm not expecting anything magical. I'm just wanting to feel the presence of peace.

The next three days hold family gatherings of celebration. Part of my plan of Christmas meditation is to see deeply each person in my family. Who have they become? How do they reflect what Christ has been in my life? I wait with joyful anticipation of these times together. Just being with each other. Christ will be in the middle of everything, it is just so.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Discovering Advent

Last night laying in bed I started a new book by Robert Benson titled "That We May Perfectly Love Thee". In reading about preparing my heart for Eucharist I began to connect it to Advent. This Saturday night as a few of us gather together in the home of a friend to celebrate the 3rd week of Advent, I will come with an empty heart. Does that sound bad? It's not.

Only if I come to the table empty can I be filled. If through Advent I am still waiting for the mystery to come I must be empty. I want my heart to be filled by Christ. It may not be what I am expecting. It may not be what I think it should be. It may not fill the particular void I want filled. But, I give my empty heart to Christ to fill it any way he wishes.

You have to work at being empty. It's too easy to be "full". Full of knowledge, full of certainty, full of work, full of time, full of success, full of failure. All kinds of things rush in to fill our hearts. As I write this I picture my heart with a plug at the bottom like old-time bathtubs. I think I should pull this plug quite often and empty out what is there so Christ can fill it again.

Even as I write this I feel the anticipation rising for Saturday night. And I will consider what I receive filling every part of my heart. Then, next week, I can pull the plug again and come to the Advent table with the same anticipation and expectation.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I think for the first time in my life I get Advent. Being raised Protestant I actually knew nothing about it (probably not even that there was Advent) until mid-life. And then it was that there was this thing called Advent that Catholics did.
Several years ago I became more aware of it but I still didn't get it. Why would you not sing Christmas carols? Why would you act like Jesus hadn't come when he had?

But this season there is something stirring inside me. I don't know if it is a mental adjustment or a true spiritual awareness. I can feel the anticipation. In my depths I am longing for his coming. I don't mean the "2nd" coming. I mean a coming into my life, my world, my friends, my heart. It is hard to articulate. I have this expectation that he will be brand new to me. That for me he will be born again into my reality.

Wouldn't it be amazing if this happened every year at this time? How exciting that my knowledge and experience of him be new every year. What joy might come of this waiting? As I write this, right here, right now I find myself on the verge of tears. It is as though one I love has been away. It is as though I have received a letter from him that he will be returning in just 4 more weeks.

I can't wait!

The Advent reading for next Sunday is already at work in me:
"as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, "The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'"

My valleys are being filled, my mountains are being made low, the crooked is being made straight and the roughness is being smoothed.

I'm sorry but this is WAY COOL!

Blessings to you during this Advent season.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Here is something I can't seem to get past this morning:

Jeremiah 29:13 If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me. NLT

What does this mean? How does this fit with those who are not "Christian" as we define it? How gracious is God? How wide and deep and high and long is God's love? Would God allow people to be deceived when they are earnest in their search?

I can't seem to let go of this. Once again I am at a place where I find myself arguing with myself. Once again I have lots of questions. I remember in the not too distant past when I had the answer to all these types of questions. It was certainly easier. The problem is that my heart seems bigger now that I have more questions than answers.

I have a feeling this question is not going to leave me alone.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I'm not really sure where this is going today. Hopefully as I form my thoughts on paper (that's kind of funny) it will become something.

I have been attending a Bible study for the last couple of weeks. I haven't felt the call or the need for this for quite a while. It's kind of interesting that it would come during the last month we will be at this church. One of the reasons I wanted to go was to see how Episcopals do Bible study.

Last night we read the story from Luke of the road to Emmaus. We mostly spent time picking out the "facts" of the story. As we were wrapping up the evening I became aware of the personal revelation of this story. One thing I love about this sort of thing is that I wasn't looking for revelation. In just reading the word I discovered something. Much of the last few years I have been saying to myself, "Ok, so I have 'known' God for quite a while; so what? How has knowing God and experiencing God been effecting my life daily?" It's a real question. In the midst of this move we are going through and it not happening the way I thought surely God would cause it to happen, how has knowing this Eternal helped?

I think maybe, possibly that could have been the discussion the followers were having on the road to Emmaus. They had thought they found God, the messiah, the savior, the one who will change everything and now....where is he? Now what do we do? Now who are we? We're not really Jews anymore.

Then comes the Eucharist. This stranger that walks with them breaks the bread and "do this in remembrance of me" becomes present. Christ is revealed in the breaking of the bread.

I have had many times recently when all I do is wonder, ponder, question. God won't always reveal himself to me in answers but when I receive the blood and the body, I know who he is.

This morning as I continue reading Robert Benson's "Living Prayer" I found a passage that somehow fits together with this personal revelation. In "The Word" or in words I find Christ revealed. And somehow it's like a combination of a puzzle and a scavenger hunt. The difference being that in this scavenger hunt I don't have a list of what I need to find. I just know there are things I need to complete who I am supposed to be.

Here is the passage from "Living Prayer":

" 'Open our eyes to see', we pray, and our ears to hear and our hearts to feel and our souls to know, 'that whatever has any being is a mirror in which we may behold You.' Somehow we begin to see God in the stories and songs and tales and poems and paintings and photographs that we did not know God inhabited. We read a favorite novel and suddenly we see the Christ hiding between its lines. We study a treasured photograph and discover His face in the crowd. We listen to a symphony and suspect we hear angels praising the One Who made us.

"We begin to acknowledge that the searching has shaped us as much as what we have found. Though we still see through the glass darkly, we find that God reveals Himself more and more"

St. Ignatius would like this.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Today's Litany

As part of my oblate journey I read daily from the Benedictine Daily Prayer. I must admit that one of the most meaningful parts of this reading is the litany. To realize there are people all over the world praying the same prayer is just powerful. It really does connect the body of Christ. Here is today's; I could make it my prayer every day:

(After each phrase pray "Lord, keep us in your love)

Nurture all people waiting for Christ with the prayer and love of Christian community-

Keep all leaders from the deception of self-righteousness and guide them in the ways of humility-

Take our preoccupation with wealth and comfort and transform it by the light of the gospel-

Free us from selfishness and strengthen us for the work of loving one another-

Alert us to the peace we can impart to others out of the full store of your blessings.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Last Friday I joined United Way in a day of caring for the homeless.
When I became aware of this event I knew I wanted the experience.
Living in Seattle has definitely exposed me more to the homeless and in visiting Fresno made me more aware of the obviously growing problem there.
At the day of caring I was at a station where we washed feet and gave them new socks. There were over 70 services available: Veterans Services, DSHS, eye exams and glasses, flu shots, checks to get a Washington State IDs, pregnancy tests, new shoes and more. We sat waiting and the doors opened. Men and women came pouring in. What was interesting was that they headed for one particular area. I had to know what drew them so. The big draw was sleeping bags and backpacks; their home furnishings and necessities.
It was obvious these men and women weren't quite sure what we were there to do so I walked out to the middle of the main aisle and began to invite them to have their feet washed and receive new socks. Here was my 2nd lesson of the day. It was very humbling and embarrassing for them to bare their feet to anyone.
After about 45 minutes they began to come and sit. Every person I served apologized for their feet as they removed their shoes and socks. It was hard for them to do. They can keep the visible part of themselves clean and somewhat groomed; but their feet are usually hidden and so are not a priority. I would just chuckle and tell them there are very few pretty feet out there.
The first man was Mark. He was pretty quiet. I asked him how long he had been homeless. He said just the last couple of years. He said he has always worked....until now. What was most remarkable about this man? About 2 hours later he came back looking for me. He told me thank you and that having his feet soaked, washed, massaged and clothed with new socks was the best part of his day at this event. It was hugely humbling to know you had been a part of that experience.
A 23 year old young man told me he was originally from Senegal. He first lived in Atlanta but heard Seattle was a good place to live. He told me how blessed he was. Then he leaned over and showed me his head. He had been beat with a baseball bat while living on the streets. He had a scar that started at his hairline and went to the crown of his head and then over to his ear. He went on to say how dangerous it is. Lifting his shirt he showed me scars where he had been stabbed several times. Again he said he was blessed. He shouldn't be alive. Picking up and opening his backpack he showed me several bottles of prescription medications. Because of his head injury he now has about 6 grand mal seizures a day.
Next came Mohammed. He was the first who seemed a bit hard. He was probably the most apologetic for the condition of his feet. But as I massaged his feet and calves with lotion he started to smile. He wanted to know why in the world I would do this. He has served several terms in prision.
Sydney was 53 years old. When I asked him about his homeless history he said it was Hurricane Katrina that started his journey. Being left with no home and no job he started journeying form one city to another to find his place. He had one felony that he confessed was committed during a 6 month stint of drinking himself out of control. He has now been dry for 2 years. He is hoping to start city college this month. I just let him talk for about 20 minutes. I realized these people have no one who will just sit and listen. While I was washing his feet he suddenly turned to check on his 2 new back packs. In realizing how his action must look he explained that on the street and in shelters you always have to guard your things. His has been stolen twice. He told me how to keep money safe and how to sleep with your backpacks safe.
One man considered himself an expert on carcinogens. He certainly had a vocabulary beyond mine. Warned me of things I shouldn't eat or natural foods to help fight the effects of those foods.
I heard a young man next to me say he was from Fresno. So I said I was also. I asked him why he moved here. He said he is married and has 6 kids. In Fresno, the best job he could get was at MacDonalds and he didn't make enough money to take care of his family. He had heard things were much better in Seattle so he moved his family here. He also said that nothing like this event and the services offered are available in Fresno.
The one woman I served was pregnant. This was not her first.

My day was a very humbling one. Seeing how exposed these men and women felt in baring their feet. Watching them relax and say "ahhhh" as they were able to just sit and soak their feet in warm water. Seeing these brothers and sisters as just that. They were kind, thankful, just trying to make their lives better in some way.
Another lesson in guarding myself from judgement. The homeless are not scary, evil, less than human. They are us.
This is true - it was a blessing to serve these people.
My challenge? Could it be possible to be part of organizing something like this in Fresno when we get there? Is that some idealist thought or could it be a reality?
Advice to others? If you want to give to those on the corners, at the intersections.....sleeping bags and backpacks.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


I just got back from a walk. My intention for my walk was two-fold. First I wanted to just observe the creator through the creation (thanks Susan). I also wanted to stop in at Holy Rosary Church a few blocks from our house.
It was much brighter than most of the Catholic churches I have been in lately; probably because it is newer. I first lit a candle and prayed for our house. Maybe I keep hoping God will get tired of hearing it and do something!
As I went on to explore a bit I entered the chapel area. Really nice niche. More candles, icons, statues. I discovered that in the 3 rows of pews there are all kinds of books on prayer, meditation and other subjects to encourage you in spending time. I also had my ipod. Hope they didn't consider that sacrilegious but I wanted to listen to some of the wonderful, intimate music that came from renewal as I walked and sat.
I found my heart being pulled. I folded down the kneeler and took my place. As I closed my eyes I had such a strong longing for someone to come and place their hand on my head or my shoulder. I actually had the thought that if they did I would grab their hand just to keep it there. Then I realized. It has been 5 years since I have felt the care of a shepherd. Even when we were the shepherds I knew there were others there who watched over my soul and encouraged my spirit. I didn't realize until today how much I miss that and have needed it. To have someone actually "keep watch over my soul" is such a gift.
It was nice to sit in that place and just be completely lost in God.
Those of you who read my blog regularly know I put a lot of effort in finding a picture to speak to my written message. The above was the best I could do. How do you image someone caring for you at that level?
And, I found another book to order. (Will it ever end?)
I hope anyone who reads this has someone who cares for their soul and spirit. You are indeed blessed.

Monday, September 7, 2009


Every once in a while I read something that becomes a "shaper" of my life. In continuing in Manning's "Ruthless Trust" I came across this story from the life of John Tauler (14th century).

"Tauler found a barefoot ragamuffin in rags, wounded and caked in blood. Tauler greeted the man
cordially: 'Good morning, dear brother. May God give you a good day and grant you a happy life.'
'Sir,' replied the ragamuffin, 'I do not remember ever having had a bad day.'

Stunned, Tauler asked him how that was possible, since sadness and grief are part of the human condition.
The beggar explained, 'You wished me a good day, and I replied that I cannot recall ever having spent a bad day. You see, whether my stomach is full or I am famished with hunger, I praise God equally; when I am rebuffed and despised, I still thank God. My trust in God's providence and his plan for my life is absolute, so there is no such thing as a bad day.'
He continued, 'Sir, you also wished me a happy life. I must insist that I am always happy for it would be untruthful to state otherwise. My experience of God has taught me that whatever He does must of necessity be good. Thus, everything that I receive from his loving hand or whatever He permits me to receive from the hands of others - be it prosperity or adversity, sweet or bitter - I accept with joy and see it as a sign of his favor. For many, many years now, my first resolution each morning is to attach myself to nothing but the will of God alone. I have learned that the will of God is the love of God. And by the outpouring of His grace, I have so merged my will with His that whatever He wills, I will too. Therefore, I have always been happy.'"

This story humbles me. Is it really possible to live like this? If so, it is only through a contemplative, mindful way of life. Manning goes on to define "ruthless" trust: trust without self-pity; because self-pity is the arch- enemy of trust. He also admits that self-pity is a normal part of human experience but there is a way to handle it without it destroying trust.

How would my physical and emotional being change if I lived like this? How would those I encounter be changed if I lived like this? One word comes to mind when I try to describe life lived with ruthless trust - serenity.

My hope is that my desire for this is at least the beginning of living like this. It will be a moment by moment way of living. I will have to remind myself many times throughout the day. But, I think Christ would smile.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Listening to the Music

Continuing in my reading of "Ruthless Trust". First I so love how the one who loves me provides these readings when I need them most. I am grateful.
Manning relates being mindful with listening to the music all around us every moment. Everything we hear is music, even the silence. Or maybe I should say every noise is music because many times I don't hear it because I don't listen for it.
All of this is another way to say don't worry about tomorrow. Live in today. I become so focused on what WILL happen or who I WILL be instead of embracing what is happening NOW and who I am NOW.
(digression - now don't interpret what I am about to say as being stupid)
The past doesn't really matter. The future doesn't really matter. For all I know there may be no future for me. All the time I allow myself to worry either about the actual tomorrow or next year or 5 years is such a killer. No, I mean a killer. It kills my joy. It kills what is happening now. It kills the wonder of the moment. It kills the blessing of the now. It kills part of me. It kills the music.
We have decided to rent the house. The decision process of the last few days has been hard. One minute I'm so happy that we will be moving forward. The next I am so scared. No jobs. No income. No equity to cushion the decision. But I am trying to listen to the music of today. I can't be paralyzed by not knowing if the renters will be good renters; will something happen to the house because of the crazy wet weather up here (which is always a part of life in the Pacific Northwest); will we able to sell next year or the next?
The music today is playing a song with lyrics that say: take a walk, a slow walk with Ollie, rejoice that you will soon be moving, enjoy the food you have for today, sit by the window that looks into the trees and just be.
I'm going to work on this today. Just today. Tomorrow I'll listen for the music again.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Today's thoughts are a mixed bag.
First, last evening I was able to just hang out with old and new friends. What a great time. After a lonely 5 year journey it was good to have my belief in community reaffirmed. To any of you that may read this, I hope you felt loved and appreciated also.

Next...the continued reading of "Ruthless Trust". More musing for the next couple of days in contemplation:

(to my artist friends)
"And what of the human heart's capacity to understand God? Here we need the help of passionate visionaries such as Dostoevsky. Sacred scripture is too important to be left exclusively to biblical scholars. Theology is too vital to be consigned solely to the province of theologians. To explore the depths of the God who invites our trust, we need the artists and mystics. "

"I pray that I may be quit of God, that I may find God." Meister Eckhart

And just to remind myself....The Beyond in our midst

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I like to collect names for God besides the ones we so easily use. I have a good list going. Here is one I just added today:

I've changed my reading list. I just can't read anymore right now that has to do with theology outside of how it can affect me. I don't know if anyone will understand this. I have returned to an author who has so many times before spoken to deep places in me...Brennan Manning. I have just started "Ruthless Trust". When I saw this book sitting on the bookshelf I thought, "This is what I need right now, in this moment".

Here are just a couple of things that I will contemplate for the next several days:

"If God stopped thinking of me, he would cease to exist." Angelus Silesius-15th century

"The way of trust is a movement into obscurity, into the undefined, into ambiguity not into some predetermined, clearly delineated plan for the future." Manning

Friday, August 14, 2009


Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to "share" about the rough times in life than it is to tell about the hope that has come?
So I'm telling of my hope. Last Monday I felt I had kind of hit bottom. Too much doubt. Not knowing how to climb out of this funk. Spending way too much time and energy and spirit on why things aren't the way I want. But, not knowing how to climb out.
I hadn't really journalized for a while so I thought maybe something would be drawn out of me onto the pages that could assist me. You should see what happened. I took my black acrylic crayon and (almost using it all) made a complete black page. That was how I was feeling. Then I took an instrument and drew 3 very, very fine lines of the absence of black. Those represented the light I felt was in my life at the time. (ok I hate always making parenthetical comments but...I know my life is good, my physicality, but my spirit, my hope, my desires were pretty black). Then I just began to write. I must admit I wasn't very kind to God. It was more than a large page of unkindness. I just kept hoping God could take it. And somewhere in the back of my mind or the depth of my spirit I was hoping the Great Mystery wouldn't "smite me dead". Lots of tears but no real enlightenment.
But....(don't you just love that word sometimes) the next morning something had happened. No the house didn't sell. No I didn't win the lottery. It was just "something". The blackness, the void had somehow moved way toward the back. I love when God does this. Do I still fight? Yes. Do I still have moments of wishing for something different? Yes. But the overwhelming, all consuming, paralyzing blackness has dissipated. It's like one of those mornings on the Central California Coast when the fog is so thick and then little by little you can actually see the sphere of sun. It isn't bringing warmth yet. There are no shadows produced yet. But.....

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Plan or Fate Pt 2

Once again a book has come into my hands that "just so happens" to fit into my current thinking/questioning. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell has left me speechless. It was one of those books I could not put down. I stayed up late last night to finish following waking up in the middle of the night for a few nights to read.

This book has touched me deeply....good or bad, I'm not sure. As befits the last few years of this journey, I am left with questions; no answers.

Do I recommend the book? Yes. However, be prepared to be left sitting and wondering if you are glad you read it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Plan or Fate

I think one reason I have struggled with writing my thoughts lately is feeling like none of it matters. I feel like I have become a bit of a fatalist; maybe not a bit but a lot. I don't like feeling this way. Last night I got up after shortly going to bed. Couldn't get my mind to settle down to the business of rest. I picked up The Revelations of Julian of Norwich. That book always brings me back to the truth that God really is loving and caring. I guess one of the dilemmas I have had is what to do with prayer. While in Fresno a few weeks ago I got together with a dear woman who is seeking and discovering like me. After spending well over an hour she asked a question. The answer to this (if I had had one) has filled centuries and endless books. She said, "What about prayer?" I just laughed. I laughed because I don't know. I'm not sure how it all works. Should we pray? Yes. How should we pray? Every way possible. Should we expect answers? I don't know. That's the problem. I just don't think God and I or humans in general are on the same page in the dictionary that defines "answer".
But my biggest problem with prayer has been wondering if God even cares. Does what happens in my individual life really matter in the huge plan for the universe? There is a bigger plan than me. BUT....I can't live that way. I have to believe that I do matter to God; even the small decisions of my life. St. Julian helps me remember this. For me God MUST be concerned, involved, actively loving or God is cruel.
God would be cruel if he/she just made us and left us here to fend for ourselves. Life is truly beautiful and wonderful; but it also full of trauma, tragedy and pain. If God is not here for us then there is no Mysterious Lover.
As my head keeps filling with all this information about spirituality I MUST continue to rest in love and wisdom which is outside of myself. Otherwise.......

Friday, July 17, 2009

I'll Be Back

Just letting everyone know, I'll be back to the blog soon.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The World in Two Categories

I've just watched disc one of "Baraka". First the images are amazing. But there is much more to this film than the beauty of the photography.
Shortly into the film I became aware of how deeply spiritual this movie is. I became aware that everything in the universe falls into two categories:
  • those things that point to God
  • those things that are searching, reaching for God

God is wisdom, beauty, happiness, fulfillment, peace, love....and everything we do is an insatiable longing for those things.

I encourage everyone to watch this film and watch with an awareness. It is hugely obvious and I believe I will be viewing the world through these eyes from this point on.

Monday, June 8, 2009


I know the truth of this and yet I still find myself doing it.
When things aren't going well, or at least not the way I want, I withdraw, turn inward, get quiet...
So here I am. I have discovered in this process that I am spoiled. I have pretty much gotten whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it. If it wasn't given to me I was a good enough manipulator, planner, figurer-er-outer that I could make it happen.
But....not this time. I'm trying not to let the house be the only thing I think about during every waking hour. It is a battle.
However, as usual, God has brought a book to me that is accompanying me on this path. It is called "The Way of Transition" by William Bridges. I think I thought the transition time was over. Guess again. Think again.
So this morning here is what I read. It completely describes how I am feeling. I don't know why it helps to know. It doesn't "fix" anything. But it does comfort me in some strange way.
"While the other two phases of transition are often bracketed by events, the neutral zone is more like an uneventful gap in your lifetime. It is a colorless streak of emptiness that spreads across your life, like the gray smear left by a dirty eraser.
"It is difficult to describe the neutral zone without speaking metaphorically. It is a season of dormancy when life withdraws back into the root to get ready for a long, cold season without whatever had given warmth and meaning to life-before-the-ending. It is a strange no-man's-land between one world and the next. It is a zone where you pick up mixed signals, some coming from the past and some from the future. Sometimes the signals jumble into noise, while at other times they cancel each other out, leaving only an eerie silence. It is a low-pressure area, where all kinds of heavy weather is drawn into the vacuum left by the loss. It is a dark night of the heart - or, maybe, a long dark twilight that refuses to resolve itself into either real day or true night....
"I found myself in a situation where, for the first time in almost forty years, I could do anything I wanted to do. But as far as I could tell, there was absolutely nothing that I wanted to do. I often caught myself staring at the wall,my mind a blank."

Now, in case anyone is worried about me...don't be. I really am ok. Just so frustrated at being on hold. Brad and I were at a grad party for him and other masters students Saturday night. Talking to people about what we are looking forward to was so energizing. It makes me laugh, smile, cry, all in the anticipation of the next phase. But then I come home and sit.

So, what am I doing to try to occupy the "neutral zone"? I am pushing in again to knowing God in different ways. My goal is to spend more time just with this mysterious one who totally perplexes me.

And, since this post is about honesty for me I feel a bit of guilt. No, not a bit; a lot. I feel bad that Brad goes to work everyday and my work is figuring out how to fill my day and have a good attitude about it. This needs major adjustment but that one I'm not sure how to do.

(and yes, that is the end of the post)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Being a Woman

I have been reading a book titled "A Woman's Journey to God".
I bought this at a library book store not really knowing what it would be like.
It has been one of those books that change your life. From this
author I have become aware of how much I have rejected being feminine. Women will relate to this: don't show emotion, it makes you look weak; not embracing the whole "girlfriend" thing. I don't know it's hard to put into words for me.
I wish I could have do overs - for my whole life. I wish I could raise my daughters all over (and my son but for different reasons).
Being feminine is such a mysterious thing. No wonder so many men don't "get" us. But it is the mysterious aspect that makes us so like God.
I have this great desire to lead retreats for women about being feminine; about truly loving who we are; about being spiritual.

I always take a while choosing a picture from flickr to use in each blog. It probably takes me more time to choose the picture than to write the blog. It has to speak to me. It has to be what I am trying to say. If you want a treat go to flickr and just search "women". It was so hard to choose. These women are gorgeous. I wanted to be Indian, I wanted to be Asian, I wanted to be African. I felt boring after looking at these photos.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Sleepless Night

I didn't get much sleep last night. Concern, no flat out worry, for someone I love. This morning, feeling like I can only waste the day not knowing what to do, I decided to read several emails from a source I subscribe to. I collect them in a file and then read several at a time and then save them for the future.
In one from last month I came across an instruction on meditation.

This passage is from Theresa of Avila:
"Let nothing upset you
Let nothing frighten you
Everything is changing
God alone is changeless"

Spirituality is not just thinking about God or trying to get closer to God. Spirituality is how you live your life. My whole life I have heard the question, "Why do bad things happen to us? I try to follow God. It doesn't seem fair or right." I am coming to understand (or at least try) that my spirituality has to do with how I live through those kinds of things. Do I fight against them? Do I get overcome by them? Do I try to smile and act like they don't impact me? The answer I want is that I just walk with them. I sorrow over the things that hurt me or the people I love. I see the pain in the things that just don't seem fair. But, I accept that this is life. Being spiritual is not escaping the everday-ness. It is immersing myself in it. Doesn't mean I don't pray for relief, answers, healing, blessing; but my spirituality is not founded in how that turns out. Can I walk with the Divine through all of this? Can I be on a journey with mystery and observe all that is around me and not give up; not wonder if the One has forsaken me or stopped loving me? This is hard. It was easier when my faith said, "just pray and everything will be better". There is no guarantee in that. My faith and spirituality is looking deeper inside me. Being ok with me. Knowing I am not alone. It is times like this when I need an experiential knowledge of the blending of God's transcendence and immanence. I can't live without both those images.
I will continue to meditate on this passage all day. I hope it goes so deep in me that when I lay my head down at night it oozes out.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Justice and The Hallelujah

This was one of those a mysteriously spiritual way. The last couple of weeks I have been spending time contemplating justice. What is it? How does it work? If one person receives justice, most likely another will not.
Sunday I was reminded of the many OT verses about justice. I spent time this morning reading them slowly and meditating on them. I got no where. Well, in the sense that I still didn't know what it is but I do know it is important to God. I decided I would try in my feeble and not very good way to draw it. You don't need to see my picture. You would probably laugh. But when I was done with this hugely simplistic drawing I found my self writing, "Justice is freedom to receive the mercy of God". I felt that was at least a start.
I decided to check my email as I was drinking my orange juice. Last night Brad sent me a link to a youtube music video. I opened it just a few minutes ago. K.D. Lang was singing Leonard Cohen's "The Hallelujah". I must say this song always touches my soul. I never quite understood what it all meant but I love the spirit of it.
As I watched K.D. sing it I was enlightened. This blog isn't about the meaning of the song. It is what happened inside me. I have always had this small (maybe not so small) aversion to K.D. As I saw her sing this my judgement of her melted away. It was like in singing it she was completely displaying her heart; the hurts, the short comings, the judgements that had been spoken against her. Now I am not saying she would agree with this. But, this is how the spirit used it for me. I began to weep. I released any judgement I had held of her. I embraced who she is. "Justice is freedom to receive the mercy of God".
K.D. became for me this morning a metaphor for justice. I feel cleansed. Once more God has been kind in opening my heart and my eyes to more of Her bigness and Her mystery.
Please, take time to watch this video:

Monday, March 16, 2009

Can A Person Be A Place?

What do I want?

I stop reading this morning to attempt to answer this question. I truly believe the things I want are not a trying to get God’s approval or love. But what is it?
I want to be a person who people are drawn to. Oh, it’s not a popularity thing. I want to be a place; a place where others find themselves. A place that provides freedom to discover and enjoy who they are.
A couple of years ago my spiritual director gave me a piece called “Hollowing”. This was in response to my struggle of describing how I was feeling. I told her I felt empty; not in the sense of hopelessness, but something intentional. Here is a portion of that piece:

Some of you I will hollow out.
I will make you a cave.
I will carve you so deep the stars will shine in your darkness.

You will be a bowl.
You will be the cup in the rock collecting rain.

I will hollow you with knives.
I will not do this to make you clean.
I will not do this to make you pure.
You are clean already.
You are pure already.

I will do this because the world needs the hollowness of you.
I will do this for the space that you will be.
I will do this because you must be large.

A passage.
People will find their way through you.
A bowl.
People will eat from you and their hunger will not weaken them unto death.
A cup.
To catch the sacred rain.

At the moment of reading this I knew that is what I wanted to be. I knew this had been written for me.

This morning I asked myself once more what I wanted and why. Why? For some reason I must make sure inside that I am not wanting this for my own fulfillment although I would be so pleased to be this.

This begs the next question….what if no one wants this? What if the thing that I believe is one of my own deepest desires; the desire for community, isn’t desired by another? What if this yearning is mine alone? Community just seems so important to me right now. This is not some kind of possessive dependence on another but a healthy interdependence. It could be what becomes our saving grace for the future.

So, do I have an answer to my own question? No, but faith says The Holy One has put this desire in me and I now walk in it.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Child Woundedness

So, here's my musing for today.
I have loved getting connected via FB. It has brought many, many people back into my life. There is something restorative about renewing these relationships (cyber though they be). As a reflection of what I have been reading this morning, this is where I have come. Woundedness, given and received, seems to come from the child within us. Our "little-oneness" is easily hurt and that same one can easily hurt, sometimes in an effort to self-protect. In reconnecting with people from my past it is as though I (and I think some of them by their own admission) have been able to recognize the child that was. I can now dismiss the past as acts of a child.
Now, the truth is, I will always have that "little-oneness" as a part of me. My hope is I can recognize it quicker and give it a good talking to before it acts. But, it won't always work. It is part of me and I think part of you.
Somewhere inside me these songs of forgiveness and/or re-established love come bubbling up. I love it. I feel fresh. I feel clean. I feel renewed.
What do you think? Am I way off here? Is this just me (which I'm ok with)?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Worth Reflection

As Brad and I have been discerning what is next in our lives, one thing we have been saying is that we want to plant another church. During his visit with his spiritual director this last week, she said, "As you talk about your desire it seems to me that rather than starting a church you want to gather a people". Oh, that so resonated in us! What will that look like? Who will it be? How will we fit together? I can't wait to see it happen.

God's Invitation

God calls us to the future. Along the way we get distracted by the bright, shiny objects that are only places that God has lightly touched; leaving a fingerprint, a dusting of himself.
Our goal is to keep moving toward the call, the invitation. Yes, we are to observe, even enjoy, these "vapor trails" left behind but not to say they are God.
My heart, our hearts long for the "infinite horizon". These finite impressions will fade.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Loving One Another

I've done so many things wrong (something inside me wants to scream, "but I've done so many things right!" -pretend I didn't say that).

We are all the same. We try to live the best lives we can. We strive to know who this God is and what she wants and how we can be. We are all the same.

That is the base of our love for one another. Not pointing out how we are different, not pointing out how we are trying differently. But, that we are trying.

Loving one another is like a magnet that pulls us together. Hmmm, interesting that it is opposite poles of the magnet that does the pulling. We must encourage each person we know to continue their reaching for God. It may look different to us. It may even make us uncomfortable. But if they are reaching for this One, love says, "Keep going". Words of critisim and judgement toward a person is like screaming at them, "You'll never get there!"

How about instead we help create a wide space for our friends to explore and discover. Oh, I know some who read this will immediately say I'm allowing for people to believe anything. No, I'm not allowing anything. I'm trying to say there has been too much pain and seperation caused by saying, "you're wrong, you can't do that".

Love does not repel. Love pulls in. Love attracks. Love draws close.

(Sometimes I get so frustrated with my inability to articulate what is in my heart. I end this because all I have right now are tears)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

In Honor

Today a little girl-child died. My heart hurts. I didn't know her. I know part of her extended family. I can't imagine the pain that is surrounding this event. Many are walking through the valley of the shadow of death and all I know to pray is, "God be their comfort".

Friday, February 20, 2009


Everyday I pray a prayer that I have written. And I mean everyday. It ends with asking God to make me what I wish I were, what I hope to be. Mostly this has to do with being hospitable; with being a welcoming person.
One of the most impacting readings I have done from the Rules of St. Benedict is about the porter. He is the one who opens the door to anyone who comes to the monastery. He is to either say, "Thanks be to God" or "Your blessing, please" to each person who enters. There is never to be an inconvenient time to visit the monastery. This has shaped so much of my reflection for many months.
A week or so ago I began reading The Wounded Healer by Nouwen. The theme has come face to face with me again. Let me quote:
"Hospitality is the virtue which allows us to break through the narrowness of our own fears and to open our houses to the stranger, with the intuition that salvation comes to us in the form of a tired traveler. ....Like the Semetic nomads we live in a desert with many lonely travelers, who are looking for a moment of peace, for a fresh drink and for a sign of encouragement so that they can continue their mysterious search for freedom." Oh God. This is not just so many people out there. This is me.

"God make me be what I wish I were, what I hope to be" This is what I hope to be. I think more than anything else. This is loving my neighbor as myself. I find myself out of words.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Who Is God?

I'm just home from Eucharist. During the evening this thought kept running through my mind.
We say, "God is this, therefore God cannot be that".
"God is not that, therefore God must be this". What if:

God is this,
and that,
and this,
and that,
and this,
and that,
and this,
and that.........

God cannot be described. God refuses to be limited. My image of God will never be complete.
Sweet, frightening mystery.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Path Continues

"My Lord God I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that my desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone."
...Thomas Merton
I think this explains why I have not been blogging for the last few weeks. I can spend only so many days being peaceful in not understanding what is going on within. Then I reach a point where I seem to just shrug and give up. But the stirring is getting too strong. I must keep exploring the path; BELIEVING it is going somewhere. It will lead to the one who made the path and made me. This doesn't mean my faith (being a follower of Christ) has been in question. It means my patience is wearing thin. But what choice do I have? As Merton says..."But I believe that my desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing." Also I agree with Merton that I don't really know myself. Will I ever? Do I look at myself through my own eyes or through the eyes of the one who cares for us all?
Today I go on.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Compassion, Love, Mercy and Kindness

Again, from Monk in the World...
This is where I am feeling my biggest challenge. I want to be like this but I have this deep realization that I can't. Ok, I can, but how?
"One simple but effective way to develop compassion is to intend it each day - to think of it and reflect on its nature as part of you, part of all of us. Our compassion is a fruit of our spiritual lives; it actually arises spontaneously when formed by intention in our spiritual practice. Love and compassion are always the goods of the spiritual journey, and they are guided by divine wisdom, which then shapes compassion in the concrete situations of our existence. Compassion, love, mercy, and kindness are the attributes of our true and common nature when we become freed from social conditioning and the indifference that often accompanies ignorance. The mystical life awakens knowledge of our genunine nature; it is a path to who we really are." (this last line is what frightens me...what is my genunine nature?)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Monk in the World

Wayne Teasdale has written a book, A Monk in the World. Many of us can understand when he writes: "What has nourished my mystical life are numerous and intense unitive experiences at the Divine's initiative. In these encounters, mysteriously offered to me unexpected and undeserved, the Divine Lover has invaded me, completely affecting every aspect of my being - my mind, will, memory, imagination, unconscious, body, sexuality, and emotions. Overwhelmed by God's invading Presence, I am saturated by the Divine's energies, its subtle actions within me, its intense but measured power. When immersed in union with God, ravished by the Divine's self-giving Presence, overcome in its inpouring love, and elevated into its vast mystery, I am unable to analyze, imagine, remember, or visualize. I can only be receptive, saying yes to God's extraordinary gift. Becoming more actively present to God, I can offer myself in the communion of love to this mysterious God, who remains always the Deus absonditus, the hidden God." pg 39

Oblate Progress

I wasn't sure how pursuing oblation would effect my life. I entered into this sort of blindly. I had certain desires one of which was a consistent progress for transformation.
Along with reading the Breviary each day, my daily reading includes Joan Chittister's commentary on the Rule of Benedict. This book has been the key for me. As she makes modern application to the Rule I find a tool to challenge and encourage my daily life.
One rule in particular has impacted me. It is from Chapter 66 of the rule: The Porter of the Monastery.
"(the porter is to be) prompt in responding to people with the warmth of love; and actually grateful for the presence of guests. When the person knocks - whenever the person knocks - the porter is to say, 'Thanks be to God' or 'Your blessing, please' to indicate and welcome at all times, not just when it feels convenient. In the Rule of Benedict, there is no such thing as coming out of time to the monastery. Come in the middle of lunch; come in the middle of prayer; come and bother us with your blessings at any time. There is always someone waiting for you."
In my desire to open a retreat center this is how I want my heart to be. And, not only regarding a retreat setting, but in my daily life. I want to look at each person I encounter as a blessing; a blessing and a gift of the moment. This may sound simple and expected but I know I have had times of not doing it well. Here is one. A few weeks before Christmas a man came to our door wanting to give us an estimate for new windows. I told him no, we were not interested. He continued to try to sell me. I finally closed the door as he continue on. Later in the evening I realized how unwelcoming I had been. The guy was just trying to make a living. Who knows what his living situation may have been. What if I had actually invited him in and offered him something warm to drink and asked him how he was. Impractical? Maybe. But I want to be that kind of person. Father, be gracious to me a sinner.