Monday, March 4, 2013

A Great Mystery

Have you ever thought about why your grandchildren love you?  Every time I see the expressions on Benjamin’s and Sullivan’s faces when they first realize they are at papa’s and nina’s house, I am humbled and awestruck.

Love, what a curious thing.  What a wonderful mystery.  What is it that causes that feeling in our hearts?  I know someone is going to want to tell me about the chemical that is released somewhere in my body. But, why is that chemical released?

Forty-one years ago I met someone who had this effect on me.  Uh, no it wasn’t Brad.  If you actually know Brad and I, you know about our love.  This is my friend, Peggy.  At the time, several of us were living rather communally. (This is the short version.) I had just arrived in Palm Springs where a few of our group were staying temporarily.  A couple of friends approached me all excited. They told me they had just met a girl who looked like me and talked like me.

As most of us do when we are told someone looks like us, I rolled my eyes and thought “sure”. But when Peggy and I came face to face we were stunned.     

In less than a year Brad and I were married and Peggy was my maid of honor.  We saw each other two, maybe three times after the wedding.  While living in Seattle and discovering all the possibilities of the internet; I attempted to track her down.  I sent letters to old addresses from with notes on the envelopes saying to please let me know if Peggy didn’t live there anymore.  I even paid one of those search companies but, again, nothing.

I just resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn’t ever see my friend again.  Maybe she didn’t want to be found. A few months ago I thought I would try FB one more time.  And, yes, there she was!

It’s been 35 years since we have seen each other.  She is flying down in a couple of weeks. The mystery of love continues.  I can’t explain it, but after all of these years and a rather short friendship, there is still a huge spot for Peggy in my heart.

Benjamin and Sullivan – what is it that makes their eyes twinkle, that makes smiles break out and causes them to run into my arms when they see me?  There is no reason grandchildren should love their ninas and papas.  But what a gift!  

This mystery of love is all around us.


Monday, February 18, 2013

My Guilt for the Cross (and the freedom from that)

I hesitated titling this post.  Using the word cross would probably cause many not to even read this. As with so many things in my spiritual journey, the reality of what happened on the cross is worth contemplating.

Sin did put Jesus on the cross but it was capital S sin.  It was the sin of the world, the sin of culture, society. The sin that said it would not, could not follow Christ or his teaching. Peace? Justice? Equality? The rule of Rome would have to change.  The rule of the Temple would have to change. Those in power would be required to step down and serve rather than be served.

I was always taught my sin put Jesus on the cross.  I was kept chained to the church with this guilt.  It was not, is not, the lie I told, the gum I stole when I was 8.  My sin is the sin of the world, the system, the culture.  My sin is that I continue to allow hunger, that I don't more strongly oppose drone warfare; that I don't more loudly protest the way women are treated as well as our gay brothers and sisters.

My sin is your sin.  This is the sin that put Jesus on the cross.  Those leaders were not willing to lay down their elevated lives any more than we are.

Yes, we may sign a petition.  We may give regularly to Poverello House.  But, it truly costs me nothing. However, when my friends cut me off, when my position where I work is threatened because of my words, then I understand the cross and what placed Jesus there.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Women - Can't Live with Them, Can't Live without Them

The truth is, you wouldn’t want to live without them.  We are a gift and a blessing that is not always recognized.
During this past election season my son asked me to comment on one of this FB posts regarding statements being made by politicians about women’s issues. He wanted to know how women can accept the place they have been given and the attempts to hold them there.

It seems no matter where we look in history – secular or religious history – women have been oppressed.They have been told they are to serve their male counterparts, to direct attention away from themselves and toward their betters; their physical bodies are what is of value giving pleasure to men and being the needed instrument to bring forth the next king to the realm.We have been told to walk behind our masters, to remain silent and to do the same work for less pay.


I never thought of myself as a feminist.  During the 60s I saw feminism as a very confrontational, aggressive Gloria Steinem.  Oh, I did support the “bra burning” but that was more my hippy side than my feminist side.  I didn’t want to wear a bra!

My own mother was an interesting mix of traditionalism and feminism.  She did the house cleaning, cooking, parenting and laundry.  She taught me dad always gets the best cut of meat and if he wants bread with dinner, you get up and get it.  I really didn’t see the feminist aspect of the life being modeled to me until my own daughter pointed it out.  One day while driving in downtown Seattle, I was telling Melanie about my new found feminist position.  She said, “What are you talking about? You raised me to be a feminist.” She went on to point out that my own mother owned not only one business but, even during retirement, continued to start small businesses not only to contribute to the household finances but because she loved working and people and challenges. How could I have not recognized all of this while growing up?  Probably because she emphasized that in our home, my dad was still central.

I wonder if in my lifetime I will see true equality and justice for women?  I’m not sure I could even describe what that would look like.  Maybe it is improving, but until we no longer hear reports of sex trafficking, struggling single moms, unequal pay and recognition in the workplace, we are still far off the mark.

Men- be aware, be active in your view of these wonderful feminine (no that’s not a derogatory word) gifts around you.

Women-be bold regarding your opinions of both yourself and the world around you.

As with so many things in this life, awareness is the beginning of the change.

Monday, January 28, 2013


It can be quite easy to become weighed down by the reality of humanity.

That’s a depressing statement that I find myself agreeing with too quickly.  Which is exactly why I need to practice an awareness of the divine and mysterious that is everywhere around me.

I wonder why it is that we humans so easily and quickly have our attention drawn to the evil that is in men’s hearts. Is it so we can elevate ourselves above others and say, “Well, at least I don’t…” or “I would never do…”?

Through the last many years of reading, more from authors who have different faith traditions that I, those with more liturgical backgrounds, mystics, saints, I have been curious regarding the use of the word “practice” regarding faith.  I was more taught “do it” or “be disciplined”, which implies just setting your mind to it and you will be successful.

In every other area of our lives we understand practice.  In soccer you don’t just determine to kick a goal.  You practice kicking thousands of goals in all different circumstances and with all kinds of obstacles put in your way.  In music you practice, not just a piece of music, but scales, repeated fingerings on a keyboard.  In each of these you will get it wrong many more times that you get it right. But for some reason, with spirituality, with desiring to be all that is capable, we consider it failure.  This is one reason I walked away from my church in my early teen years.  I just keep failing.

Now, as my view of the divine and spirituality have changed, softened, grown(?), I am beginning to see my “failings” as I just need to practice more.  I don’t give up as easily.  If I make an intention to do something, every day, every week and then don’t do it; it is much easier for me to just sort to shrug my shoulders and say, “Well, I’ll try again”.

There may be days I feel so successful in showing love and care for someone and the next day I am faced with another who I absolutely cannot love.  Failure or the chance to practice more?

In the book In Search of Belief, Joan Chittister says:

                “[People] are not born perfect; they become perfect by failing.

                The conception, the impulsion, the kindling of Jesus by the Spirit of the Holy calls us to become less concentrated on sin and more on grace, less concerned with the restrictions of law, and more with the limitless possibility of love, less obsessed by the limitations of being human and more in awe of its potential.  It is humanity that is the womb of the divine for us.”

The more I practice being aware of God in everyone and in everything around me, the more my attention will be drawn to the good, the mysterious, the divine in humanity.

And this would be good for us all. 



Friday, January 4, 2013

Prayer: Still trying to figure this thing out

This may be a bit of a rambling, but I need to put it into words.

If prayer is to change us, then why make prayer about talking to God? Why is it not just talking to, thinking to myself?  Perhaps the revealing of myself carves out space for God.

From Joan Chittister’s Called to Question: “ ’I don’t pray,’ people say to me.  And I say back, ‘Neither do I.  I just breathe God in and hope somehow to learn how to breathe God out, as well’.  The purpose of prayer is simply to transform us to the mind of God.  We do not go to prayer to coax God the Cornucopia to make our lives a Disneyland of possibilities.  We don’t go to prayer to get points off our sins.  We don’t go to suffer for our sins.  We go to prayer to be transfigured ourselves, to come to see the world as God sees the world, to practice the presence of God, to put on a heart of justice, of love, of compassion for others.  We go to become new of soul.”

So, if this is true, can/should we pray for needs?  Others needs?  Are we truly just praying for divine presence in whatever circumstance?  Is that the “best” we can hope for?  Is it possible presence really is the best?  Do I misunderstand God so much that I don’t get this?

Let’s face it, we have to question how often, if ever, God really has intervened at our request.  Oh, this could go so much deeper. If awareness, that which is attained through prayer, is what is needed, then is awareness what could possibly bring us to the mental, emotional state of healing, grace, peace? 

We read or have heard that in studies those who pray heal faster.  Is it an actual “hand of God” intervening or is it a healing of our anxiety, confusion, fear that brings our bodies to a place they can heal? 

After reading this chapter on prayer, I know I have been misled about prayer my whole life.  I don’t think God is magic or my servant, but I don’t think I have known the true essence, the true purpose of prayer.  Because of this I have experienced disappointment.  I have been filled with questions.

Does all this mean I won’t pray?  Of course not.

From Called to Question:

“Maybe we are forgetting to center ourselves in the consciousness of the God who is conscious of all of us. Maybe that’s why the world today is in the throes of such brutal violence, such inhuman poverty, such unconscionable discrimination, such self-righteous fundamentalism.  Maybe we are forgetting to pray, not for what we want, but for the sight, the enlightenment, that God wants to give us.

And if I pray, will I be able to change those things?  I don’t really know.  All I know is that the enlightenment that comes with real prayer requires that I attend to them not ignore them.”

Monday, December 31, 2012

The Beloved Earth

“I believe in God…the creator…of earth maybe one of the most proclaimed – and least believed, barely practiced – assertions of all the propositions in the Creed.  In fact, religion itself has forever proclaimed the truth about the value of Creation on one hand and taken it away on the other.  Earth, we got the impression, was a kind of divine mistake.  Its temptations delayed our sanctification.  Its glories, beautiful but false, seduced us to substitute lesser things for the real values of life.  Its cycles simply reminded us of the inferiority of our own natures.  Dust we were and to dust we would return.  It pitted the material against the spiritual dimensions of life.  It misled us about the purpose of existence.  It was the forbidden apple in everybody’s life.

“The earth, we said, was the thunder roll of divine presence.  And then we proceeded to ignore its place in the flowering of the human spirit and the achievement of human development.  Creation loomed as a temptation to be overcome. “    Joan Chittister from "In Search of Belief"

I am lucky to have been raised by a father who loved nature.  He taught me to be observant of what was around me whenever we were outside the city. Not only did he love spotting some wild animal (large or small) but he taught me to read the signs of the wilderness. One time when Brad and I and our family were coming down from Glacier Point at the end of a week’s camping, our truck engine quickly became hot.  We had no water with us.  I was able to spot a water source not too far off the road.  We filled up whatever utensil we had, used a pair of my tights as a filter and were able to add enough water to get to civilization for repair. My dad was responsible for this.  

 When my mother was able to sell her business and have more time to do what she loved, she became quite the gardener.  Her passion seemed to be having her hands in the dirt and growing flowers, fruits, vegetables.

My mother and father turned a barren piece of high desert property into an oasis.  They started raising a hog and a beefalo every year.  My dad could not watch when the slaughter truck would come out to turn his beloved animals into the next year’s main course for both my parents and our family.  Even though he knew better, he loved those creatures.

Like my parents, I have grown in my passion for the earth.  I think this is one of the things that fascinates me about Native American spirituality.  If this God is the creator of all, and I have no idea how that really happened, then nothing that was created by this Mother/Father should we consider either evil or disposable.  We should passionately love this place we live and do what we can to care for it and preserve it.  I hope I can pass this to my grandchildren.  

 I hope I can help them hold on to the child-love of the dirt, the birds, the squirrels, worms and all the rest of our co-inhabitants.

Friday, December 21, 2012


I was very determined to post regularly to my blog.  But the incidents of last Friday have kept me silent.  I don't want to go into all the emotions and thoughts that have been mine this last week.  And, if you are a friend on Facebook, you already know some of those.

In the midst of reading the books I mentioned before, this horrific event takes place.  All it has done is make my questions about the Divine deeper and more plentiful.

I will be back.  I just need to do a bit more processing and let a bit more time go by.